Home | Comment & Analysis    Sunday 4 July 2004

Where is Africa’s voice?

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Editorial, The Sunday Nation

NAIROBI, July 04, 2004 — It was not too long ago that we launched the African Union with so much fanfare. The AU specifically abandoned the old policies which discouraged what was called interference in the internal affairs of a member-state. It gave itself the right to intervene where a member flouting accepted standards of good behaviour.

Nepad [New Partnership for Africa’s Development], with its African Peer Review Mechanism, expressly gave African governments the right to monitor each other.

The first real test for this leap into maturity might be the Darfur crises in western Sudan. Armed Arab militias backed by the Sudanese government were carrying out a brutal racial pogrom against ethnic Africans.

When the United Nations last year sought to appoint a Special Rapporteur on Sudan, the African bloc was crucial in voting down the strong statement of censure. And this year the African countries banded together again to defeat a strong motion against Sudan at the UN Commission on Human Rights.

They even went ahead to commit a singular act of infamy by sponsoring the election of Sudan, a country killing its own citizens, to the Human Rights Commission.

It has taken the intervention of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and US Secretary of State Colin Powell to let the Sudanese government know that what it is doing is totally unacceptable.
Both visited Sudan this week and only just stopped short of classifying the Darfur atrocities as genocide.

African leaders, meanwhile, have been happy to look the other way. No interference in the internal affairs of their neighbours!



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